Evacuation orders: Here's what you must do in B.C. if you're told to leave home in an emergency

With record-breaking temperatures over the past week, B.C. is already experiencing a devastating wildfire season, leading to evacuation orders in multiple communities.

Since Wednesday, orders have been issued in Lytton, areas in and near Kamloops, Deka Lake and communities near Castlegar because of multiple fires threatening structures and lives.

As a result, the province is reminding residents of the steps they must take if they're placed under an alert or order.

"Following the directions of local governments and first responders is absolutely critical in situations like this and I encourage all British Columbians as we continue to go through what will be a hot, dry summer, to pay attention," Premier John Horgan said Thursday during an update on the province's wildfire situation.

"Make sure when you hear a public service announcement that you understand that it could be directly affecting you. Don't change the dial on your radio, listen to what's going on in your community."

Specifically, when an evacuation alert is issued, residents should be prepared to leave their home on short notice. The alert gives people time to gather their emergency kit and important documents like insurance papers and birth certificates.

People should also pack several days' clothing, medicine and prescriptions, comfort items for children and necessities for pets. Precious items like photos and keepsakes that can't be replaced can also be packed up.

"Also, check in on any family, friends or neighbours who may need a helping hand due to mobility or other issues," a statement from the province says.

Once an evacuation order is announced, however, residents must move swiftly and leave the area immediately.

If possible, they should wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes in case of unforeseen hazards. Families should take their pets with them, but most public shelters don't allow pets, so arrangements must be made to stay with a relative, friend or in a pet-friendly hotel.

Residents should grab their emergency kit and critical items on their way out. All windows and doors should be closed in homes and gates should be latched shut, but not locked.

If there is time and it's safe to do so, residents should shut off water at the main line to their home and switch off electricity at the breaker panel. Natural gas service should remain on.

After leaving, residents who went to an evacuation centre should sign in at a registration desk. All evacuees are encouraged to register online.

"In such stressful circumstances, the most important thing to remember is to stay calm, listen to local public officials, and if possible, access online social media channels like BC Wildfire, the EmergencyInfoBC Twitter page or your local government website for information updates," the province's advisory says.